oversight

Geospatial Information: OMB and Agencies Need to Make Coordination a Priority to Reduce Duplication

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-11-26.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                United States Government Accountability Office

GAO             Report to the Committee on Homeland
                Security and Governmental Affairs,
                U.S. Senate



                GEOSPATIAL
November 2012



                INFORMATION

                OMB and Agencies
                Need to Make
                Coordination a
                Priority to Reduce
                Duplication




GAO-13-94
                                               November 2012

                                               GEOSPATIAL INFORMATION
                                               OMB and Agencies Need to Make Coordination a
                                               Priority to Reduce Duplication
Highlights of GAO-13-94, a report to the
Committee on Homeland Security and
Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate




Why GAO Did This Study                         What GAO Found
The federal government collects,               While the President and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have
maintains, and uses geospatial                 established policies and procedures for coordinating investments in geospatial
information—information linked to              data, governmentwide committees and federal departments and agencies have
specific geographic locations—to               not effectively implemented them. The committee that was established to
support many functions, including              promote the coordination of geospatial data nationwide—the Federal Geographic
national security and disaster                 Data Committee (FGDC)—has developed and endorsed key standards—
response. In 2012, the Department of           including a metadata standard that includes descriptive information about a
the Interior (Interior) estimated that the     particular set of geospatial data—and established a clearinghouse of metadata;
federal government invests billions of         however, the clearinghouse is not being used by agencies to identify planned
dollars on geospatial data annually,           geospatial investments to promote coordination and reduce duplication. The
and that duplication is common. GAO            FGDC has not yet planned or implemented an approach to manage geospatial
was asked to determine the extent to           data as related groups of investments to allow agencies to more effectively plan
which the federal government has               geospatial data collection efforts and minimize duplicative investments; and its
established and effectively                    strategic plan is missing key elements, such as performance measures for many
implemented policies and procedures            of its defined objectives. Further, none of the three federal departments in GAO’s
for coordinating its geospatial                review have fully implemented important activities for coordinating geospatial
investments and avoiding duplication.          data, such as preparing and implementing a strategy for advancing geospatial
                                               activities within their respective departments (see table).
To do so, GAO focused on FGDC
coordination activities; efforts within the    Status of Federal Departments’ Implementation of Geospatial Activities
departments of Commerce, the                    Activity                                           Commerce        Interior      Transportation
Interior, and Transportation; and OMB
oversight. GAO reviewed FGDC and                Designate a senior official                           ◐              ●                ◐
department documentation, such as
policies, procedures, and strategic             Prepare and implement a strategy                      ○              ○                ○
plans; OMB guidance and an executive            Develop a policy for metadata                         ◐              ○                ○
order; and reports concerning                   Make metadata available on
duplicative investments.                        clearinghouse                                         ●              ●                ●
                                                Adopt procedures for accessing
What GAO Recommends                             clearinghouse                                         ○              ○                ○
GAO is making recommendations                  ● = Fully met ◐ = Partially met ○ = Not met
aimed at improving coordination and            Source: GAO analysis of department documentation.
reducing duplication, to include FGDC
developing a national strategy for             Further, the three agencies in GAO’s review responsible for governmentwide
coordinating geospatial investments;           management of specific geospatial data have implemented some but not all
federal agencies following federal             important activities for coordinating the national coverage of specific geospatial
guidance for managing geospatial               data. For example, only one agency has developed a plan for the nationwide
investments; and OMB developing a              population of the datasets under its responsibility, and none of the agencies have
mechanism to identify and report on            developed a plan to develop standards that facilitate the collection and sharing of
geospatial investments. Two agencies           geospatial data. Finally, while OMB has oversight responsibilities for geospatial
and OMB generally agreed with GAO’s            data, OMB staff members acknowledged that OMB does not have complete and
recommendations and one agency                 reliable information to identify potentially duplicative geospatial investments.
neither agreed nor disagreed.                  FGDC, federal departments and agencies, and OMB have not yet fully
                                               implemented policies and procedures for coordinating geospatial investments
                                               because these efforts have not been a priority. As a result, efforts to acquire data
                                               are uncoordinated and the federal government is acquiring duplicative geospatial
                                               data. For example, three agencies are independently acquiring road data, which
View GAO-13-94. For more information,
contact David A. Powner at (202) 512-9286 or
                                               is reported to have resulted in millions of wasted taxpayers’ dollars. Unless OMB,
pownerd@gao.gov.                               the FGDC, and federal departments and agencies decide that coordinating
                                               geospatial investments is a priority, this situation will likely continue.
                                                                                                     United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                     1
               Background                                                                   3
               Implementing Established Policies Is Not a Federal Priority,
                 Resulting in Duplicative Investments                                     14
               Conclusions                                                                33
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                       34
               Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                         37

Appendix I     Objective, Scope, and Methodology                                          41



Appendix II    Comparison between Proposed Themes and Existing
               Themes                                                                     45



Appendix III   Comments from the Department of the Interior                               50



Appendix IV    Comments from the Department of Commerce                                   52



Appendix V     GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                      55



Tables
               Table 1: Status of Federal Departments’ Implementation of
                        Geospatial Activities                                             21
               Table 2: Total Number of Federal Geospatial Metadata Records by
                        Agency                                                            23
               Table 3: Percentage of Metadata Records with Range of Mandatory
                        Fields Completed By Agency                                        23
               Table 4: Status of Theme-lead Agencies’ Implementation of
                        Geospatial Activities                                             25




               Page i                                         GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
Figures
          Figure 1: Visual Representation of Themes in a GIS                                        4
          Figure 2: Monitoring Drought Conditions across the United States                          5
          Figure 3: Hurricane Leslie Wind Speed Predictions                                         6




          Abbreviations

          BTS                        Bureau of Transportation Statistics
          Commerce                   Department of Commerce
          FGDC                       Federal Geographic Data Committee
          GIS                        geographic information systems
          Interior                   Department of the Interior
          IT                         information technology
          NOAA                       National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
          NSDI                       National Spatial Data Infrastructure
          OMB                        Office of Management and Budget
          TIGER                      Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and
                                     Referencing
          Transportation             Department of Transportation
          USGS                       U.S. Geological Survey



          This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the
          United States. The published product may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety
          without further permission from GAO. However, because this work may contain
          copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be
          necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately.




          Page ii                                                  GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   November 26, 2012

                                   The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman
                                   Chairman
                                   The Honorable Susan M. Collins
                                   Ranking Member
                                   Committee on Homeland Security
                                     and Governmental Affairs
                                   United States Senate

                                   The federal government collects, maintains, and uses geospatial
                                   information—information linked to specific geographic locations—to help
                                   in decision making and to support many functions, including national
                                   security, law enforcement, health care, environmental protection, and
                                   natural resources conservation. Among the many activities that can
                                   depend on critical analysis of geospatial information are maintaining
                                   roads and other critical transportation infrastructure and quickly
                                   responding to natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, and fires.

                                   Multiple federal agencies may provide services at the same geographic
                                   locations and may independently collect similar geospatial information
                                   about those locations, thus raising the question of how well the nation’s
                                   investments in geospatial data are coordinated. Moreover, the
                                   Department of the Interior (Interior) has recently estimated that the federal
                                   government invests billions of dollars in geospatial data annually, and
                                   reported that duplication among investments is common. 1

                                   Over the past 2 years, we issued two comprehensive reports that
                                   identified federal programs or functional areas where duplication, 2
                                   overlap, or fragmentation exists; the actions needed to address such




                                   1
                                    Department of the Interior, Geospatial Line of Business Capital Asset Summary, Aug. 14,
                                   2012.
                                   2
                                    Duplication occurs when two or more agencies or programs are engaged in the same
                                   activities or provide the same services to the same beneficiaries.




                                   Page 1                                                 GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
conditions; and the potential financial and other benefits of doing so. 3 For
this review, you asked us to determine the extent to which the federal
government has established and effectively implemented policies and
procedures for coordinating its investments in geospatial data and
avoiding duplication.

To address our objective, we focused on governmentwide activities to
implement the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)—an
infrastructure to facilitate the efficient collection, sharing, and
dissemination of geospatial data among all levels of government, and
public and private sectors—as well as efforts of the Federal Geographic
Data Committee (FGDC)—the federal committee established to promote
the coordinated use, sharing, and dissemination of geospatial data
nationwide. Additionally, we focused on activities within three selected
departments: Department of Commerce (Commerce), Department of the
Interior (Interior), and Department of Transportation (Transportation); and
within three selected agencies responsible for managing data themes: 4
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S.
Geological Survey (USGS), and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics
(BTS). The themes in our review are geodetic control 5—(NOAA),
hydrography 6—(USGS), and transportation 7—(BTS). We reviewed and
assessed FGDC and department documentation, such as policies,
procedures, strategic plans, meeting minutes, and budget documentation;
the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) data call results and
guidance; and recent reports discussing duplicative geospatial



3
 GAO, 2012 Annual Report: Opportunities to Reduce Duplication, Overlap and
Fragmentation, Achieve Savings, and Enhance Revenue, GAO-12-342SP (Washington,
D.C.: Feb. 28, 2012); and Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government
Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue, GAO-11-318SP (Washington, D.C.:
Mar. 1, 2011).
4
 Data themes are comprised of one or more sets of geospatial data that have national
significance, as established by federal guidance, such as hydrography (i.e., surface water
features, such as lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers).
5
 The data collected as part of the geodetic control theme are used to establish the precise
location of geospatial data.
6
 This theme includes surface water features, such as lakes, ponds, streams, rivers,
canals, oceans, and coastlines.
7
 This theme includes both physical and nonphysical components representing all modes
of travel that allow the movement of goods and people between locations.




Page 2                                                   GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
             investments; and interviewed FGDC and department officials, and staff
             members from the OMB Office of E-Government.

             We conducted this performance audit from November 2011 to November
             2012, in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
             standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to
             obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
             our findings and conclusions based on our audit objective. We believe
             that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
             and conclusions based on our audit objective. Details of our objective,
             scope, and methodology are contained in appendix I.


             Geospatial information describes entities or phenomena that can be
Background   referenced to specific locations relative to the Earth’s surface. For
             example, entities, such as buildings, rivers, road intersections, power
             plants, and national parks can all be identified by their locations. In
             addition, phenomena, such as wildfires, the spread of the West Nile virus,
             and the thinning of trees due to acid rain can also be identified by their
             geographic locations.

             Users can analyze that data in geographic information systems (GIS)—
             systems of computer software, hardware, and data used to capture, store,
             manipulate, analyze, and graphically present a potentially wide array of
             geospatial information. The primary function of a GIS is to link multiple
             sets of geospatial data and display the combined information as maps
             with different layers of information. Assuming that all of the information is
             at the same scale and has been formatted according to the same
             geospatial standards, users can potentially overlay geospatial information
             about any number of specific topics to examine how the data in the
             various layers interrelate. Each layer of a GIS map typically represents a
             single theme comprised of one or more sets of data, each of which could
             be derived from a source completely different from the others. Figure 1
             portrays the concept of visual representation of geospatial data themes in
             a GIS.




             Page 3                                          GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
Figure 1: Visual Representation of Themes in a GIS




Examples of geospatial data applications are provided in figures 2 and 3.
Figure 2 demonstrates the usefulness of GIS in showing the scope,
severity, and duration of the effects of the recent drought in the United
States, which could be used to make drought relief and agricultural
support activities more effective.




Page 4                                               GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
Figure 2: Monitoring Drought Conditions across the United States




Another use for GIS is tracking and responding to natural disasters, such
as wildfires and hurricanes. Figure 3 demonstrates the usefulness of GIS
in tracking the direction and estimated strength of an impending
hurricane. The timely delivery of these data can be used to provide for
orderly evacuation of people from affected areas, and lessen the impact
of the storm on facilities, such as sewage treatment plants, hospitals, and
nursing homes.




Page 5                                             GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                          Figure 3: Hurricane Leslie Wind Speed Predictions




Coordination of Federal   For many years, the federal government has taken steps to coordinate
Geospatial Activities     geospatial activities both within and outside the federal government. In
                          1953, the Bureau of the Budget 8 first issued Circular A-16, encouraging
                          expeditious surveying and mapping activities across all levels of
                          government and avoidance of duplicative efforts. In 1990, OMB revised
                          Circular A-16 to, among other things, establish the FGDC within Interior to
                          promote the coordinated use, sharing, and dissemination of geospatial
                          data nationwide. Building on that guidance, in 1994 the President issued
                          Executive Order 12906 for the purpose of addressing wasteful duplication


                          8
                          The Bureau of the Budget became OMB in 1970.




                          Page 6                                              GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
and incompatibility of geospatial information, and assigned the FGDC the
responsibility to coordinate the development of the NSDI. 9 In 2002, OMB
again revised Circular A-16 to further describe the components of the
NSDI; clearly define agency responsibilities for acquiring, maintaining,
distributing, using, and preserving geospatial data; and to reaffirm the
FGDC’s role as the interagency coordinating body for NSDI-related
activities. 10 The circular established the following five components of the
NSDI and described how these components were to be implemented.

•    Data themes. Data themes are topics of national significance, such
     as transportation, which includes all modes of travel (e.g., road and
     rail data). OMB Circular A-16 currently identifies 34 data themes and
     identifies the “lead” agency or agencies for each theme. Each data
     theme is to be comprised of one or more electronic data records,
     known as datasets. Of the 34 themes, 9 are identified as “framework”
     themes 11—that is, themes identified in Circular A-16 as critical for
     many geospatial applications.

•    Standards. Geospatial standards provide common and repeatable
     rules or guidelines for the development, documentation, and
     exchange of geospatial datasets.

•    Metadata. Metadata are information about datasets, such as content,
     source, accuracy, method of collection, and point-of-contact.
     Metadata are used to facilitate the search of and access to datasets
     within a data library or clearinghouse, and enable potential users to
     determine the data’s applicability for their use.

•    National Spatial Data Clearinghouse. The clearinghouse is intended
     to be a centralized geospatial metadata repository that contains
     geospatial metadata records from federal agencies, state and local
     governments, and academic and private sector organizations that can
     be searched to determine whether needed geospatial data exist and
     can be shared. Federal agencies are required to identify their existing


9
 Executive Order No. 12906, Coordinating Geographic Data Acquisition and Access: The
National Spatial Data Infrastructure, 59 Fed. Reg. 17,671 (Apr. 11, 1994).
10
 OMB, Circular No. A-16, Coordination of Geographic Information and Related Spatial
Data Activities, Aug. 19, 2002.
11
  According to FGDC officials, there are seven framework themes, with two of the themes
having two parts.




Page 7                                                 GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
      and planned geospatial investments in the clearinghouse, and search
      the clearinghouse for cost-saving opportunities before acquiring
      geospatial data. In 2003, the FGDC created the Geospatial One-Stop
      to provide “one-stop” access to geospatial metadata from a
      centralized database and search function. In October 2011, the
      Geospatial One-Stop was retired, and the FGDC initiated a pilot
      project, known as the Geospatial Platform, which is envisioned to
      provide shared and trusted geospatial data, services, and applications
      for use by government agencies, their partners, and the public. 12
      According to Interior officials, Interior is the managing partner of the
      Geospatial Platform. As of August 2012, there were approximately
      835,000 geospatial metadata records in the central repository, of
      which about 373,000 were from federal sources. Users can search the
      metadata repository through two primary portals: geo.data.gov 13 and
      the Geospatial Platform. 14 The General Services Administration is
      responsible for managing the clearinghouse database and the
      associated web portal geo.data.gov.

•     Partnerships. Partnerships are efforts aimed at involving all
      stakeholders (e.g., federal, tribal, state, local government, and
      academic institutions) in the development of the NSDI.

In November 2010, OMB issued supplemental guidance specifically
regarding how agencies are to manage data themes. 15 This supplemental
guidance expands upon and clarifies some of the language and
responsibilities contained in OMB Circular A-16 in order to facilitate the
adoption and implementation of a geospatial asset management
capability.

To fulfill its responsibilities, the FGDC is governed by a steering
committee—an interagency decision making body that provides



12
    http://www.geoplatform.gov.
13
    http://geo.data.gov/geoportal/catalog/main/home.page.
14
  The repository can also be searched using data.gov; however, the site automatically
redirects the user to geo.data.gov. Data.gov was initially launched in May 2009 to
encourage open government by increasing access to official sources of federal data and
facilitating the use and development of tools to manipulate the data by all levels of
government as well as academia and the private sector.
15
    OMB, M-11-03, Issuance of OMB Circular A-16 Supplemental Guidance, Nov. 10, 2010.




Page 8                                                      GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
leadership and policy direction in support of the development of the NSDI.
The Secretary of the Interior chairs the committee; the Vice-Chair is the
Deputy Director for Management of OMB. 16 All departments or agencies
responsible for geospatial data themes or that have activities in
geographic information or geospatial data collection or use are required to
be members of the FGDC. Thirty-two agencies 17 are currently members
of the Steering Committee and are to be represented by their senior
agency officials for geospatial information. 18 These senior agency officials
are responsible for overseeing, coordinating, and facilitating their
respective agency’s implementation of geospatial requirements, policies,
and activities. The FGDC is supported by an Office of the Secretariat that
consists of about 10 people located in USGS who do the day-to-day work
of supporting, managing, and coordinating the activities of the FGDC.

In addition, in December 2007, the Secretary of the Interior created the
National Geospatial Advisory Committee 19 to provide the department and
the FGDC with advice and recommendations related to the management
of federal and national geospatial programs, development of the NSDI,
and the implementation of related federal guidance. Members of the




16
  The chair and vice-chair may select designees to serve on their behalf. The Secretary of
the Interior has delegated the committee chair responsibility to the Assistant Secretary for
Water and Science. The Deputy Director for Management of OMB has delegated the
committee vice-chair responsibility to the Federal Deputy Chief Information Officer.
17
  The 32 agency members of the Steering Committee are: Interior, OMB, U. S.
Department of Agriculture, Commerce, Department of Defense, U.S. Army Corp of
Engineers (non-voting member), Department of Education, Department of Energy,
Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security,
Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of
Labor, Department of State, Transportation, Department of the Treasury, Department of
Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Communications Commission
(non-voting member), General Services Administration, Library of Congress, National
Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Archives and Records Administration,
National Capital Planning Commission (non-voting member), National Science
Foundation, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Office of Personnel Management,
Small Business Administration, Smithsonian Institution, Social Security Administration,
Tennessee Valley Authority, and U.S. Agency for International Development.
18
  OMB, M-06-07, Designation of a Senior Agency Official for Geospatial Information, Mar.
3, 2006, calls for select agencies to appoint to the Steering Committee policy-level
officials—a chief information officer or a senior official at the assistant secretary level.
19
 The Secretary created the committee as a federal advisory committee under the Federal
Advisory Committee Act.




Page 9                                                    GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                            committee include approximately 30 officials from federal, state, local,
                            and tribal governments, the private sector, and academia.


OMB’s Roles and             OMB has specific oversight responsibilities for federal information
Responsibilities for        technology (IT) systems and acquisition activities—including GIS—to help
Overseeing IT Investments   ensure their efficient and effective use. Two key laws that outline these
                            responsibilities are the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 20 and the E-
                            Government Act of 2002. 21

                            •     The Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996—The act requires OMB to establish
                                  processes to analyze, track, and evaluate the risks and results of
                                  major capital investments in information systems made by federal
                                  agencies and report to Congress on the net program performance
                                  benefits achieved as a result of these investments.

                            •     The E-Government Act of 2002—The act establishes an e-
                                  government initiative, which encourages the use of web-based
                                  Internet applications to enhance the access to and delivery of
                                  government information and service to citizens, to business partners,
                                  to employees, and among all levels of government. The act also
                                  requires OMB to report annually to Congress on the status of e-
                                  government initiatives. In these reports, OMB is to describe the
                                  administration’s use of e-government principles to improve
                                  government performance and the delivery of information and services
                                  to the public.

                            OMB subsequently began initiatives to fulfill the requirements established
                            by these laws:

                            •     In February 2002, OMB established the Federal Enterprise
                                  Architecture, which is intended to facilitate governmentwide
                                  improvement through cross-agency analysis and identification of
                                  duplicative investments, gaps, and opportunities for collaboration,
                                  interoperability, and integration within and across agency programs.
                                  The Federal Enterprise Architecture is composed of five “reference
                                  models” describing the federal government’s (1) business (or mission)



                            20
                                40 U.S.C § 11101 et seq.
                            21
                                Pub. L. No. 107-347 (Dec. 17, 2002).




                            Page 10                                         GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
    processes and functions, independent of the agencies that perform
    them; (2) performance goals and outcome measures; (3) means of
    service delivery; (4) information and data definitions; and (5)
    technology standards.

•   In March 2004, OMB established multiple “lines of business” to
    consolidate redundant IT investments and business processes across
    the federal government. Later, in March 2006, OMB established the
    Geospatial Line of Business. Each line of business is led by an
    individual agency and supported by other relevant agencies. Interior is
    the managing partner for the Geospatial Line of Business and the
    FGDC Secretariat provides project management support. OMB
    reports to Congress each year on the costs and benefits of these
    initiatives.

In carrying out its responsibilities, OMB uses several data collection
mechanisms to oversee federal IT spending during the annual budget
formulation process. Specifically, OMB requires federal departments and
agencies to provide information related to their IT investments (called
exhibit 53s) and capital asset plans and business cases (called exhibit
300s).

•   Exhibit 53. The purpose of the exhibit 53 is to identify all IT
    investments—both major and nonmajor—and their associated costs
    within a federal organization. Information included in agency exhibit
    53s is designed, in part, to help OMB better understand agencies’
    spending on IT investments. OMB guidance for the fiscal years 2013
    and 2014 budget formulation instructs agencies to identify their
    geospatial investments in the exhibit 53 using Federal Enterprise
    Architecture codes for specific functions (e.g., geospatial services,
    financial management, and acquisition management).

•   Exhibit 300. The purpose of the exhibit 300 is to provide a business
    case for each major IT investment and to allow OMB to monitor IT
    investments once they are funded. Agencies are required to provide
    information on each major investment’s cost, schedule, and
    performance.




Page 11                                        GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
GAO Has Previously         In June 2004, we reported that OMB, individual federal agencies, and
Recommended                cross-government committees and initiatives, such as the FGDC and the
Improvements in the        Geospatial One-Stop project, had taken actions to coordinate the
                           government’s geospatial investments across agencies and with state and
Management of Geospatial   local governments. 22 However, we noted that these efforts had not been
Information and OMB        fully successful in reducing duplication in geospatial investments for
Guidance                   several reasons:

                           •    a complete and up-to-date strategic plan for doing so was not in
                                place;

                           •    agencies had not consistently complied with OMB guidance that
                                seeks to identify and reduce duplication; and

                           •    OMB’s oversight of federal geospatial activities had not been effective
                                because its methods—the annual budget review process, the federal
                                enterprise architecture effort, and the FGDC’s reporting process—
                                were insufficiently developed and had not produced consistent and
                                complete information.

                           We reported that, as a result of these shortcomings, federal agencies
                           were still independently acquiring and maintaining potentially duplicative
                           and costly datasets and systems. Accordingly, we recommended that the
                           Director of OMB and the Secretary of the Interior direct the development
                           of a national geospatial strategic plan, and recommended that the
                           Director of OMB develop criteria for assessing interagency coordination
                           on proposals for potential geospatial investments, and strengthen its
                           oversight of geospatial projects. OMB and Interior generally agreed with
                           our recommendations. In response, between 2004 and 2008, OMB,
                           Interior, and the FGDC created a number of documents that addressed
                           the development of a national geospatial strategic plan, including a
                           strategic plan for NSDI development and a business case for the
                           development of the Geospatial Line of Business. Furthermore, in 2004
                           and 2006, OMB issued guidance designed to increase the amount of
                           budget information available on geospatial investments, and improve
                           oversight of agencies’ implementation of geospatial-related requirements,
                           policies, and activities.



                           22
                            GAO, Geospatial Information: Better Coordination Needed to Identify and Reduce
                           Duplicative Investments, GAO-04-703 (Washington, D.C.: June 23, 2004).




                           Page 12                                              GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
In September 2011, we reported that OMB’s guidance to agencies for
reporting their IT investments did not ensure complete reporting or
facilitate the identification of duplicative investments. 23 Specifically,
agencies differed on what investments they included as an IT investment.
We further reported that OMB’s guidance to federal agencies to
categorize IT investments did not go far enough to allow for the
identification of potentially duplicative investments. In particular, OMB’s
guidance required that each investment be mapped to a single Federal
Enterprise Architecture functional code; however, IT investments could fit
into more than one functional code.

Accordingly, we recommended that OMB clarify its guidance on reporting
IT investments to specify whether certain types of systems—such as
space systems—are to be included; allow agencies to place their IT
investments into more than one Federal Enterprise Architecture functional
code in order to reduce potentially duplicative investments; and direct
agencies to report the overall steps that they take to ensure that their IT
investments are not duplicative as part of their annual budget and IT
investment submissions. OMB did not agree that further efforts were
needed to clarify reporting in regard to the types of systems; but it agreed
with our recommendations regarding the categorization of investments
and reporting of steps taken to reduce duplication. OMB’s fiscal year
2014 budget formulation guidance allows agencies to identify up to five
Federal Enterprise Architecture functional codes with each investment.




23
 GAO, Information Technology: OMB Needs to Improve Its Guidance on IT Investments,
GAO-11-826 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 29, 2011).




Page 13                                             GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                         While the President and OMB have established policies and procedures
Implementing             for managing and coordinating investments in geospatial data, the FGDC,
Established Policies     federal departments and theme-lead agencies, and OMB itself have not
                         effectively implemented them. This has resulted in uncoordinated and
Is Not a Federal         duplicative investments in areas of national interest, such as road and
Priority, Resulting in   address data.
Duplicative              •    While the FGDC has developed and endorsed several standards, it
Investments                   has not yet planned for or implemented an approach to manage data
                              themes and their associated key datasets 24 as related groups of
                              investments designed to allow agencies to more effectively plan
                              geospatial data collection efforts and minimize duplicative
                              investments. Additionally, planned geospatial data acquisitions are not
                              identified in the clearinghouse and the FGDC does not have a current
                              strategic plan to guide its efforts.

                         •    None of the three federal departments in our review have fully
                              implemented important activities for coordinating geospatial data and
                              assets, such as developing and implementing a strategy for
                              advancing geospatial activities within the department.

                         •    The three theme-lead agencies in our review have implemented some
                              but not all important activities to ensure the national coverage and
                              stewardship of geospatial data themes.

                         •    OMB’s annual budget reporting mechanisms have not provided
                              complete and reliable information to identify duplicative geospatial
                              investments.

                         The primary cause for why the FGDC, federal departments and theme-
                         lead agencies, and OMB have not yet fully implemented established
                         policies and procedures for coordinating geospatial investments is
                         because, according to OMB staff members and agency officials, they
                         have been focusing on other priorities. Because federal agencies have
                         yet to fully implement important activities and practices for coordinating
                         and managing geospatial data and facilitating the development of the



                         24
                           According to OMB, a key geospatial dataset is (1) used by multiple agencies or with
                         agency partners such as state, tribal, and local governments; (2) applied to achieve
                         presidential priorities as expressed by OMB; (3) needed to meet shared mission goals of
                         multiple federal agencies; or (4) expressly required by statutory mandate.




                         Page 14                                                 GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                              NSDI, and OMB is limited in its ability to oversee agencies’ geospatial
                              investments, agencies continue to acquire duplicative geospatial data.


FGDC Has Developed            According to federal guidance, 25 the FGDC is to serve as the lead federal
Geospatial Standards, but     executive body charged with the leadership, development,
Has Not Fully                 implementation, and review of geospatial data standards.
Implemented Key               To its credit, the FGDC has developed and endorsed several standards.
Activities for Coordinating   In particular, it developed a metadata standard that includes descriptive
Geospatial Data               information about a dataset—such as who created and published it, the
                              related theme keyword, and the geographic coordinates that bound the
                              dataset—and facilitates the identification and sharing of geospatial data. 26
                              The FGDC has also developed standards associated with each of the
                              framework themes and endorsed several other standards developed by
                              external standards bodies, such as the International Organization for
                              Standardization’s tracking and navigation standard for web services. 27

FGDC Has Not Yet Fully        OMB guidance 28 from November 2010 calls for the immediate use of an
Planned or Implemented a      approach to manage the NSDI data themes and their associated key
Portfolio Management          datasets as related groups of investments, known as portfolio
Approach                      management. A portfolio management approach establishes a framework
                              for governmentwide management of themes and datasets to allow
                              agencies to more effectively plan geospatial data collection efforts and
                              minimize duplicative investments. It includes establishing goals and
                              performance measures, as well as processes for reviewing the health and
                              status of datasets across the government in order to maximize the value
                              of the data. OMB further directs the FGDC to provide guidance, within a
                              year of issuance, about how to implement the portfolio management
                              approach.



                              25
                                OMB, Circular No. A-16, Coordination of Geographic Information and Related Spatial
                              Data Activities, Aug. 19, 2002; and Executive Order No. 12906, Coordinating Geographic
                              Data Acquisition and Access: The National Spatial Data Infrastructure, 59 Fed. Reg.
                              17,671 (Apr. 11, 1994).
                              26
                               FGDC, FGDC-STD-001-1998: Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata, 1998.
                              27
                                The International Organization for Standardization is an international standards body
                              that develops voluntary standards through global consensus.
                              28
                               OMB, M-11-03, Issuance of OMB Circular A-16 Supplemental Guidance, Nov. 10, 2010.




                              Page 15                                                  GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
While the FGDC has initiated activities that Secretariat officials say are
first needed to establish a portfolio of datasets, it has not yet fully planned
for or implemented a portfolio management approach. Specifically, the
FGDC evaluated the 34 data themes identified in OMB Circular A-16 to
determine whether any changes were needed; in August 2011, the
Steering Committee proposed consolidating the 34 data themes into 17
themes; Secretariat officials subsequently stated that the FGDC agencies
are proposing to eliminate 1 more theme for a total of 16. (See app. II for
a comparison of the 34 themes and the newly proposed 16 themes.)
These officials further stated that, as of August 2012, lead agencies have
been identified for each of the 16 themes and said that they plan to
discuss the revised lists of themes and lead agencies at the Steering
Committee’s September 2012 meeting. Once the Steering Committee
approves the revised themes and lead agencies, the FGDC plans to send
them to OMB for its approval. Additionally, the FGDC has identified 221
key datasets associated with the proposed data themes. 29

However, the data themes, lead agencies, and datasets have neither
been finalized nor approved, and the FGDC has yet to provide guidance
to agencies about how to implement the portfolio management approach.
While Secretariat officials stated that they had developed a draft
implementation plan in November 2011, it has not been finalized or
approved, and FGDC Secretariat officials were unable, on behalf of
FGDC agencies, to provide a time frame for doing so.

FGDC Secretariat officials stated that completion of the activities needed
to fully implement the portfolio management approach has not been
accomplished due to competing priorities, such as the Geospatial
Platform. Until the implementation plan is completed; and the themes,
lead agencies, and associated datasets are identified and approved, the
agencies cannot effectively begin to implement a coordinated geospatial
asset management capability that was, according to the OMB guidance,
designed to provide a mechanism for agencies to plan more effectively in
advance of data collection efforts to identify partnership opportunities, and
to minimize duplicative investments.




29
  According to Interior officials, the actual number of datasets varies over time based on,
for example, new technologies, new data collection, data integration, and data disposition.




Page 16                                                  GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
FGDC Has Established a            According to federal guidance, 30 the FGDC is to develop a clearinghouse
Clearinghouse, but Planned        with the functionality to allow federal departments and agencies to (1)
Acquisitions Are Not Identified   determine whether the geospatial data they are seeking already exist and
and Shared                        (2) identify planned acquisitions of geospatial data and opportunities to
                                  jointly acquire the data in order to improve efficiencies in geospatial data
                                  collection and to reduce potential redundancies and duplication.
                                  Additionally, federal guidance requires agencies to identify their planned
                                  investments in the clearinghouse. 31

                                  The FGDC has developed a clearinghouse that allows users to determine
                                  whether the data they are seeking exist. As noted previously, the
                                  clearinghouse consists of a centralized repository that contains geospatial
                                  metadata 32 records from federal agencies, state and local governments,
                                  and academic and private-sector organizations; and multiple web-based
                                  portals from which the metadata can be searched. The two primary
                                  portals are geo.data.gov and the Geospatial Platform. As of August 2012,
                                  there were approximately 835,000 geospatial metadata records in the
                                  centralized repository, of which about 373,000 were from federal sources.

                                  Although the clearinghouse allows agencies to identify their planned
                                  investments, federal agencies are not doing so. According to the
                                  Geospatial Platform managing partner representative, the platform was
                                  modified in May 2012 to include a site for agencies to identify their
                                  planned acquisitions and potential cooperative efforts to acquire data.
                                  However, as of September 2012, federal agencies have not identified any
                                  planned geospatial investments. The Geospatial Platform managing
                                  partner representative stated that agencies are not identifying their
                                  planned investments because the FGDC has not completed and shared
                                  guidance with federal agencies that describes what information is to be
                                  shared and how agencies are to identify the planned investments in the


                                  30
                                    OMB, Circular No. A-16, Coordination of Geographic Information and Related Spatial
                                  Data Activities, Aug. 19, 2002; and Executive Order No. 12906, Coordinating Geographic
                                  Data Acquisition and Access: The National Spatial Data Infrastructure, 59 Fed. Reg.
                                  17,671 (Apr. 11, 1994).
                                  31
                                    OMB, Circular No. A-11, Preparation, Submission, and Execution of the Budget, section
                                  25, Aug. 3, 2012; and Executive Order No. 12906, Coordinating Geographic Data
                                  Acquisition and Access: The National Spatial Data Infrastructure, 59 Fed. Reg. 17,671
                                  (Apr. 11, 1994).
                                  32
                                    As previously noted, metadata are information about datasets, such as content, source,
                                  accuracy, method of collection, and point of contact.




                                  Page 17                                                 GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                               platform. This official acknowledged that until the guidance is completed
                               and implemented, agencies are not likely to add their planned
                               acquisitions to the platform and identify potential cooperative efforts to
                               acquire geospatial data and minimize potential redundancies and
                               duplicative efforts. 33

                               According to Secretariat officials, they have not yet finalized the guidance
                               for placing planned acquisitions on the platform because the primary
                               focus of the FGDC has been on the development of the Geospatial
                               Platform’s Business Plan and the initial release of the Geospatial
                               Platform’s core capabilities, applications, and tools. However, without the
                               ability to identify planned geospatial data acquisitions, agencies will likely
                               miss opportunities to reuse or cooperatively acquire geospatial data, thus
                               resulting in the acquisition of potentially duplicative geospatial data and
                               needless expenditure of limited resources.

FGDC Lacks an Up-to-Date and   OMB requires FGDC to prepare and maintain a strategic plan for the
Complete Strategic Plan to     development and implementation of the NSDI. 34 Foundational elements of
Coordinate Its Activities      strategic planning, as recognized by federal legislation 35 and OMB
                               guidance, 36 include, among other things, (1) a vision statement; (2)
                               outcome-oriented goals and objectives; (3) a description of how the goals
                               and objectives are to be achieved—including the resources needed and a
                               description of the working relationships with other agencies; (4) a
                               description of how performance goals contribute to the general goals and
                               objectives of the strategic plan; and (5) the identification of external
                               factors that could significantly affect the achievement of the general goals
                               and objectives. Such a plan could help to facilitate coordination among
                               the many geospatial activities that are underway within the federal
                               government and with other stakeholders, and provide a mechanism to



                               33
                                 According to an FGDC Secretariat official, the Geospatial One-Stop had previously
                               included the ability for agencies to identify their planned acquisitions. This official told us
                               that during the time the Geospatial One-Stop was available, there were approximately
                               4,000 instances of organizations notifying the geospatial community, through the One-
                               Stop, of planned data acquisitions.
                               34
                                OMB, Circular No. A-16, Coordination of Geographic Information and Related Spatial
                               Data Activities, Aug.19, 2002.
                               35
                                 5 U.S.C. § 306(a)(1), (2), (4), (6), and (7).
                               36
                                 OMB, Circular No. A-11, Preparation, Submission, and Execution of the Budget, section
                               210, Aug. 3, 2012.




                               Page 18                                                      GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
measure progress in coordinating geospatial activities and reducing
duplication.

FGDC has prepared a strategic plan; however, it is missing key
components and has not been kept up-to-date. FGDC’s current strategic
plan was issued in 2004 and includes (1) a vision statement, (2) three
outcome-oriented goals and 13 objectives to be accomplished between
2005 and 2008, and (3) a high-level description of how all but 1 of the 13
objectives are to be achieved. However, its high-level description of the
objectives does not include a description of the resources needed to
achieve the goals and objectives, or explicitly how the FGDC agencies
are to work together to achieve the goals. In addition, the plan does not
identify performance measures (such as the percent of the nation for
which a given type and standard of data is available) for 9 of the 13
objectives and it does not describe external factors that could affect the
achievement of the general goals and objectives, such as the risk of
theme-lead agencies not meeting their NSDI development milestones, or
limited funding for geospatial investments.

Moreover, the plan does not reflect significant initiatives that the FGDC
Steering Committee has engaged in—such as the Geospatial Platform,
which did not exist in 2004—and the time frames for FGDC’s goals are
outdated. For example, the latest time frame associated with the goals in
the plan is the year 2007. According to the FGDC Office of the Secretariat
Executive Director, the plan needs to be updated; however, he could not
provide a time frame, on behalf of the FGDC agencies, for doing so.

The FGDC Office of the Secretariat Executive Director stated that the
FGDC has created other strategic planning documents, such as a
technical architecture document from 2006 and, more recently,
Geospatial Platform planning documents from 2011 and 2012.
Individually, these documents contain several foundational elements of
strategic planning (e.g., a vision statement, goals and objectives, and
discussion of external risks). However, cumulatively they do not represent
a comprehensive strategic plan that addresses all aspects of the NSDI for
the same unified future time frame.

The Executive Director attributed the lack of a comprehensive strategic
plan to competing priorities set by OMB and the FGDC’s Steering
Committee. Until a comprehensive strategic plan, with meaningful and
measurable performance goals, is in place to guide the federal
government’s geospatial efforts, it is more difficult to achieve the NSDI



Page 19                                         GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                           vision and to hold the FGDC and federal agencies accountable for its
                           development.


Departments and Theme-     OMB has issued guidance, which was followed by an executive order, to
lead Agencies Have Not     federal departments and agencies for effectively coordinating and
Fully Implemented          managing geospatial data to help ensure that they wisely use federal
                           resources in developing the NSDI. 37 According to OMB guidance and the
Important Activities for   executive order, federal departments and agencies that handle geospatial
Coordinating and           data are to:
Managing Geospatial Data
                           •   designate a senior agency official for geospatial information that has
                               departmentwide responsibility, accountability, and authority for
                               geospatial information issues;

                           •   prepare, maintain, publish, and implement a strategy for advancing
                               geographic information and related geospatial data activities
                               appropriate to their mission, and in support of the NSDI strategy;

                           •   develop a policy that requires them to make their geospatial metadata
                               available on the clearinghouse;

                           •   make all metadata associated with geospatial data available on the
                               clearinghouse, and use the metadata standard; and

                           •   adopt internal procedures to ensure that they access the NSDI
                               clearinghouse before they expend funds to collect or produce new
                               geospatial data to determine (1) whether the information has already
                               been collected by others, or (2) whether cooperative efforts to obtain
                               the data are possible.

                           As shown in table 1, none of the three federal departments in our review
                           have fully implemented the important activities needed for effectively
                           coordinating and managing geospatial activities within their respective
                           departments.



                           37
                             OMB, M-06-07, Designation of a Senior Agency Official for Geospatial Information, Mar.
                           3, 2006; OMB, Circular No. A-16, Coordination of Geographic Information and Related
                           Spatial Data Activities, Aug.19, 2002; and Executive Order No. 12906, Coordinating
                           Geographic Data Acquisition and Access: The National Spatial Data Infrastructure, 59
                           Fed. Reg. 17,671 (Apr. 11, 1994).




                           Page 20                                                GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
Table 1: Status of Federal Departments’ Implementation of Geospatial Activities

 Activity                                           Commerce     Interior     Transportation
 Designate a senior official with
 departmentwide responsibility
                                                       ◐            ●                ◐
 Prepare and implement a strategy                      ○            ○                ○
 Develop a policy for metadata                         ◐            ○                ○
 Make metadata available on
 clearinghouse
                                                       ●            ●                ●
 Adopt procedures for accessing the
 clearinghouse
                                                       ○            ○                ○
Key
●=Fully met—the department provided evidence that addressed the criteria.
◐=Partially met—the department provided evidence that addressed about half or a large portion of
the criteria.
○=Not met—the department did not provide evidence that addressed the criteria or provided
evidence that minimally addressed the criteria.
Source: GAO analysis of department documentation.



•     Designate a senior official with departmentwide responsibility.
      Only one department—Interior—has designated a senior official with
      departmentwide responsibility, accountability, and authority.
      Specifically, in a memo issued in August 2012, the Assistant
      Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget designated a senior
      official with departmentwide responsibility, accountability, and
      authority for geospatial information investments, and for overseeing,
      coordinating, and facilitating implementation of the department’s
      geospatial-related requirements, policies, activities, and issues.
      According to NOAA’s Chief Information Officer, he has been
      designated as Commerce’s senior official for geospatial information,
      but acknowledged that he does not have responsibility and authority
      for other Commerce geospatial investments, such as those of the
      Census Bureau. Finally, Transportation has designated a senior
      official for geospatial information, but this individual does not have
      departmentwide responsibility, accountability, or authority for
      geospatial information, as she does not have any insight into, or
      control over, geospatial activities conducted by the Federal Aviation
      Administration, one of Transportation’s major agencies.

•     Prepare and implement a strategy. None of the departments have
      prepared and implemented a strategy for advancing geographic
      information and related geospatial data activities appropriate to their


Page 21                                                        GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
     mission. According to Interior’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for
     Technology, Information, and Business Services, the Geospatial
     Modernization Blueprint Recommendations and Architectures from
     2007 is the department’s internal geospatial strategy; 38 however, it
     has not been approved or implemented.

•    Develop a policy for metadata. None of the departments in our
     review have established a departmentwide clearinghouse metadata
     policy. In lieu of a departmentwide policy, two of Commerce’s
     agencies, NOAA and the Census Bureau, have developed policies.
     Specifically, NOAA’s Data Documentation Procedural Directive
     requires metadata for NOAA environmental data, information, and
     services to be published to certain national and international
     clearinghouse portals, and references data.gov. 39 The Census
     Bureau’s metadata policy also mentions the importance of posting
     metadata to the clearinghouse. 40

•    Make metadata available on the clearinghouse. All three
     departments have made their metadata available on the
     clearinghouse.

     Most metadata records in the clearinghouse are owned by three
     federal agencies. Specifically, our analysis of the 441,343 federal
     records in the centralized geospatial metadata repository, as of
     February 2012, 41 showed that over 99 percent of these records were
     populated by three agencies: Census Bureau, USGS, and NOAA. See
     table 2 for the total number of geospatial metadata records by agency.




38
  Department of the Interior, Geospatial Modernization Blueprint Recommendations and
Architectures, Version 1.0, December 2007.
39
 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Data Management
Committee, Data Documentation Procedural Directive, Oct. 28, 2011.
40
 Census Bureau, National State Geographic Partnerships Branch, Geospatial Product
Metadata Standard, Version 5.0, Jan. 28, 2010.
41
  The number of federal records in the clearinghouse as of February 2012 (441,343) is
higher than the total number of federal records in the clearinghouse as of August 2012
(372,986) because, according to the General Services Administration, who is responsible
for managing the clearinghouse database, it has taken steps to remove duplicative
records or records no longer owned by federal agencies.




Page 22                                                GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
Table 2: Total Number of Federal Geospatial Metadata Records by Agency

    Agency                                 Number of records                      Percentage of total records
    Census Bureau                                            283,855                                   64.3%
    USGS                                                     132,792                                     30.1
    NOAA                                                        23,904                                     5.4
    Other                                                         792                                      0.2
    Total                                                    441,343                                      100
Source: GAO analysis of General Services Administration data.


       Our analysis of the 29 mandatory fields 42 in the 441,343 federal
       metadata records shows that the metadata records from the three
       agencies with the majority of geospatial metadata records are largely
       complete, as shown in table 3. Specifically, nearly all of Census
       Bureau records had between 24 and 27 mandatory fields completed.
       In addition, over 95 percent of USGS’s and NOAA’s records had 28 or
       29 of the mandatory fields completed. Finally, the small number of
       records associated with all other agencies had between 24 and 29 of
       the mandatory fields completed for virtually all of the records.

Table 3: Percentage of Metadata Records with Range of Mandatory Fields
Completed By Agency

    Range of mandatory                                           Census
    fields                              All agencies             Bureau          USGS    NOAA Other agencies
    0 – 18                                             0%                0%        0%     0.3%             0.1%
                                                                             a
    19 – 23                                            0.9               0         2.9        0              0.1
    24 – 27                                          64.9            100           1.2      2.0             49.2
    28 – 29                                          34.2                 0       95.9     97.7             50.6
    Total                                             100            100          100      100              100
Source: GAO analysis of General Services Administration data.

a
 Our table is rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent. We found that of the 283,855 Census Bureau
records, only 50 records, approximately .018 percent, had fewer than 24 of the mandatory fields
completed.




42
  According to the FGDC, Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata Workbook,
May 1, 2000, there are 29 mandatory fields that are to be completed for all metadata
records.




Page 23                                                                          GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                              •    Adopt procedures for accessing the clearinghouse. None of the
                                   departments have established procedures for searching the
                                   clearinghouse before expending funds to acquire or produce
                                   geospatial data. While Interior does not have procedures for
                                   accessing the clearinghouse, the department’s Deputy Assistant
                                   Secretary for Technology, Information, and Business Services said
                                   that it is commonly practiced and noted that the department usually
                                   confers internally with its committees on elevation and orthoimagery 43
                                   prior to acquiring geospatial data.

                              Department officials attribute the lack of progress in implementing
                              important coordination and management activities to a lack of priority,
                              competing department resources, and in some cases, a lack of
                              awareness. Until the departments implement these activities, they risk
                              acquiring potentially duplicative and costly geospatial data, resulting in
                              the inefficient use of already limited resources.

Theme-lead Agencies Are Not   According to OMB, 44 in order to effectively manage geospatial data and
Effectively Managing Data     provide the leadership necessary to ensure the national coverage and
Themes                        stewardship of specific geospatial data themes, NSDI-designated theme-
                              lead agencies are to:

                              •    designate a point of contact who is responsible for the development,
                                   maintenance, coordination, and dissemination of data using the
                                   clearinghouse;

                              •    prepare goals relating to the theme that support the NSDI strategy,
                                   and as needed, collect and analyze information from user needs and
                                   include those needs in the theme-related goals;

                              •    develop and implement a plan for the nationwide population of the
                                   data theme that includes (1) the development of partnership programs
                                   with states, tribes, academia, the private sector, other federal
                                   agencies, and localities that meet the needs of users; (2) human and
                                   financial resource needs; (3) standards, metadata, and the



                              43
                                Elevation data provide three-dimensional models of the Earth’s surface. Orthoimagery
                              data provide images of the Earth’s surface collected by aerial photography or satellites.
                              44
                               OMB, Circular No. A-16, Coordination of Geographic Information and Related Spatial
                              Data Activities, Aug.19, 2002.




                              Page 24                                                  GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
      clearinghouse needs; and (4) a timetable for the development for the
      theme; and

•     create a plan to develop and implement theme standards.

As shown in table 4, the three theme-lead agencies in our review have
implemented some but not all important geospatial activities.

Table 4: Status of Theme-lead Agencies’ Implementation of Geospatial Activities

 Activity                                                NOAA            USGS            BTS
 Designate a theme point of contact                        ●               ●              ●
 Prepare goals and analyze user needs                      ●               ◐              ◐
 Develop a plan for theme population                       ●               ◐              ◐
 Develop a standards plan                                  ○               ○              ○
Key

●=Fully met—the agency provided evidence that addressed the criteria.
◐=Partially met—the agency provided evidence that addressed about half or a large portion of the
criteria.
○=Not met—the agency did not provide evidence that addressed the criteria or provided evidence
that minimally addressed the criteria.
Source: GAO analysis of agency documentation.


•     Designate a theme point of contact. All three agencies have
      designated a point of contact.

•     Prepare goals and analyze user needs. One agency has developed
      goals that recognize and consider user needs for all key datasets in
      its theme and two agencies have developed goals based on user
      needs for the major datasets that comprise their themes. Specifically,
      NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey Ten-Year Plan includes goals for
      furthering all of the key datasets in the geodetic control theme. 45 For
      example, the plan highlights the goals to modernize geometric
      (horizontal) datum 46 and to modernize the geopotential (vertical)


45
 Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The
National Geodetic Survey Ten-Year Plan: Mission, Vision, and Strategy 2008-2018, 2008.
46
  The geometric datum, also known as the horizontal datum, is the horizontal frame of
reference used by all civilian agencies. It is essentially the x and y axis on a horizontal
plane, similar to longitude and latitude.




Page 25                                                       GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
     datum, 47 and identifies user needs and why they are important. NOAA
     has also developed other short-term goals, such as continue
     education, outreach, development of transition tools and applications,
     and capacity-building activities to prepare users for the transition to
     new geometric and geopotential datum; and identify common
     objectives and find opportunities for cooperative projects and tasks
     related to standardization and updates to vertical datum. USGS has
     developed goals for the maintenance of the National Hydrography
     Dataset and for the Watershed Boundaries Dataset, such as ensuring
     that datasets continue to meet user needs; however, these two
     datasets do not include all datasets within the hydrography theme.
     Similarly, BTS has developed goals for the development of a
     comprehensive road centerline 48 dataset; however, the goals do not
     address all other modes of transportation covered by the data theme,
     such as railroads, waterways, and virtual airways. The goals
     recognize differences in user needs for road centerline data, such as
     basic geometry and naming, support for addressing, and enhanced
     cartographic displays.

•    Develop a plan for theme population. One agency has developed a
     plan that addresses all of the key elements for developing a
     nationwide plan; one has taken actions consistent with most of the
     key elements for some of the datasets associated with the theme, but
     has not integrated all the activities into a single plan that covers the
     entire theme; and one has developed a plan that addresses some of
     the key elements, but for only one of the major datasets in the theme.
     NOAA has developed a plan, its National Geodetic Survey Ten-Year
     Plan, which provides a strategy for how NOAA intends to modernize
     and populate its data theme. The plan includes the development of
     partnership programs with states, academia, federal agencies, and
     other stakeholders; identifies the need to address human and financial
     resource needs; identifies needs for standards, metadata, and the
     clearinghouse; and advances a timetable for the development of the
     theme. In contrast, USGS does not have a plan for the population of
     the hydrography theme; however, it has taken actions to (1) develop



47
  The geopotential datum, also known as the vertical datum, is the vertical frame of
reference used by all civilian agencies. It is essentially the z axis in a three-dimensional
model, similar to altitude.
48
  Road centerlines are vector line data that represent the geographic center of road rights-
of-way on transportation networks.




Page 26                                                     GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                              partnerships; (2) address human and financial resources; and (3)
                              identify needs for standards, metadata, and the clearinghouse for the
                              National Hydrography Dataset, which is one dataset within the
                              hydrography theme. BTS has developed a strategic plan for the
                              development of a nationwide road centerline dataset. However, this
                              plan does not address all other modes of transportation covered by
                              the data theme, such as railroads, waterways, and virtual airways.
                              These officials stated that a strategic plan for connecting all of the
                              transportation datasets in an intermodal manner is needed; however,
                              there are no plans to create such a plan in the immediate future.

                          •   Develop a standards plan. None of the agencies have developed a
                              plan to develop and implement standards; while NOAA recognized the
                              need for a plan, both USGS and BTS stated that such a plan was not
                              needed for their themes—USGS because of the maturity of their
                              existing datasets, and BTS because they collect data from states and
                              counties in various formats, and then standardize the data
                              themselves. However, without a plan to maintain existing standards or
                              anticipate new standards, these agencies risk potential future
                              difficulties exchanging and sharing geospatial datasets.

                          Theme-lead agency officials attribute the lack of progress in implementing
                          these activities to competing priorities, limited resources, and the
                          perceived lack of need for some plans. Until agencies implement these
                          activities, they will be challenged to effectively manage important
                          geospatial activities, wisely use limited resources, and risk engaging in
                          potential duplicative geospatial acquisition efforts.


OMB Does Not Have         OMB has oversight responsibilities for federal IT systems and acquisition
Complete and Reliable     activities—including GIS—to help ensure their efficient and effective use.
Information to Identify   According to OMB Office of E-Government staff members, OMB relies
                          primarily on the annual budget process to identify potentially duplicative
Duplicative Geospatial    geospatial investments; specifically, the exhibit 53s and 300s.
Investments
                          However, OMB’s Office of E-Government staff members acknowledged
                          that these two sources may not in all cases provide the necessary
                          information to allow OMB to identify potentially duplicative investments or
                          accurately quantify the amount of federal dollars spent on geospatial
                          datasets for three primary reasons. First, these staff members stated that
                          some federal agencies may not classify investments in geospatial data as
                          “information technology” (such as satellites), meaning that they would not
                          be captured in exhibit 53s. OMB staff members stated that agencies are



                          Page 27                                        GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
to determine what qualifies as an IT investment and stated that there are
variations in the way that agencies interpret the definition of IT. Second,
agencies do not always appropriately classify geospatial investments as
“geospatial services” using the Federal Enterprise Architecture codes.
Our analysis of the fiscal year 2013 exhibit 53s for the three departments
that we reviewed showed that only 5 of their 24 key datasets 49—1 of
NOAA’s 6 geodetic control datasets, 50 and 4 of USGS’s 7 hydrography
datasets 51—were included in the departments’ exhibit 53s. Further, only 1
of these investments 52 was identified with the geospatial services code,
as required by OMB’s fiscal year 2013 budget formulation guidance. 53
Third, given that the geospatial data may be only one component of an IT
investment or capital asset, even if it were included in the agencies’
exhibit 53s or 300s, OMB would have difficulties in identifying the
geospatial component, and the associated dollars, without having a
detailed discussion with individuals responsible for each investment.

OMB staff members stated that they do not have a complete picture of
how much money is being spent on geospatial investments across the
federal government because, as noted above, what is being reported may
not capture all geospatial spending, and the data have not been reliable.
In 2006 and 2007, OMB made two data calls directly to federal agencies
to determine federal agencies’ spending on geospatial investments.
However, according to OMB, neither of these data calls provided the
agency with complete and reliable information—largely because agencies
either provided incomplete information, or did not respond at all. Although
the data may not be complete, those agencies that did respond reported
that they planned to spend about $1.89 billion in geospatial data and
services between fiscal years 2007 and 2009, of which about $1.53
billion, or about 81 percent, was to be on geospatial data. OMB staff


49
  The FGDC Secretariat provided a list of key datasets associated with the three themes
in our sample as of August 2012.
50
 The key dataset was the Continuously Operating Reference Stations.
51
 The key datasets were National Hydrography Dataset, National Water Information
System-Stream Gage Locations, National Water Information System-Water Quality
Monitoring Stations Locations, and National Wetlands Inventory.
52
 The key dataset was the National Hydrography Dataset.
53
  As of August 2012, NOAA officials stated that they had requested a modification to its
exhibit 53 to identify the Continuously Operating Reference Stations dataset as geospatial
services.




Page 28                                                  GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                         members stated that OMB has not made any additional data collections
                         outside of the IT reporting process (i.e., exhibit 53s and 300s) for
                         geospatial data investments since 2007, and as of September 2012, has
                         no current plans for any new collections.

                         OMB staff members stated that, although eliminating duplication in
                         geospatial investments is important, OMB’s recent efforts have focused
                         on other commodity IT areas with higher spending and cyber security
                         ramifications, such as reducing the numbers of federal data centers and
                         internet connections maintained by the government. However, without
                         complete and reliable information on the federal government’s
                         investments in geospatial data, including the amount of federal dollars
                         spent, OMB does not have the necessary information to make a fact-
                         based decision about the potential priority of geospatial information in
                         relation to other activities.


Federal Agencies Have    According to FGDC Secretariat officials, departments and agencies have
Coordinated Specific     taken steps to coordinate geospatial data related to their respective data
Investments, but         themes.
Duplicative Geospatial   •   Interior participates in several efforts aimed at coordinating one of its
Data Exists                  themes, orthoimagery. For example, in conjunction with the U.S.
                             Department of Agriculture, Interior participates in the National
                             Agricultural Imagery Program, which was developed to obtain one-
                             meter resolution, “leaf-on” imagery 54 for the 48 continental states on a
                             3-year cycle. In addition, Interior, in conjunction with the Department
                             of Defense, participates in the Urban Area Imagery Program. The goal
                             of this program is to acquire one-foot resolution, “leaf-off” imagery 55
                             for 133 of the nation’s largest or most important urban areas (such as
                             state capitals) on a 2-to-4-year cycle. According to FGDC Secretariat
                             officials, for both of these programs, members acquire the imagery,
                             assure the quality of the imagery, and distribute it to the participants in
                             the program. Each participant in these programs benefits from the
                             imagery acquired, as do all other federal, state, and local agencies,


                         54
                           “Leaf-on” imagery refers to the time of year in which imagery data are being acquired
                         during which there is foliage on certain tree and shrub species.
                         55
                           “Leaf-off” imagery refers to the time of year in which imagery data are being acquired
                         during which there is no foliage or a reduced amount of foliage on certain tree and shrub
                         species.




                         Page 29                                                  GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
    the private sector (such as companies that provide mapping services
    on the Internet), nonprofit organizations, and members of the public
    interested in this type of imagery.

•   Interior also participates in a program for another theme, elevation.
    Specifically, in conjunction with other departments, Interior
    participates in the National Digital Elevation Program, which is
    intended to acquire detailed elevation data using advanced
    technologies to support various programmatic needs, such as USGS’s
    Coastal and Marine Geology program, the U.S. Department of
    Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (which
    supports precision farming), and the Department of Homeland
    Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Risk Mapping,
    Assessment, and Planning program. The participating agencies seek
    other federal agency and state and local government participation in
    elevation acquisition projects as part of their program design.
    According to Secretariat officials, agencies generally coordinate their
    plans and funding, and execute the projects independently. In
    addition, the data acquired by projects are available to others.

•   USGS further coordinated the elevation theme when, in conjunction
    with its partners, it sponsored the National Enhanced Elevation
    Assessment. According to USGS officials, the assessment was
    conducted to investigate the potential to obtain greater benefits and
    efficiencies from the growing interest in using data from advanced
    technologies, and concluded that moving to a coordinated national
    program has the potential to produce new benefits in excess of $1
    billion annually. USGS and its federal partners intend to use the
    recommendations from the assessment to improve on the current
    coordination-based approach among federal agencies and nonfederal
    organizations.

•   As the theme-lead agency of the hydrography theme, USGS has led
    efforts to coordinate the population of the hydrography theme.
    According to USGS officials, it created a partnership for the
    development of two separate datasets associated with hydrography:
    the National Hydrography Dataset and the Watershed Boundaries
    Dataset. These datasets were created by pooling funding and
    resources from several federal, state, and local agencies into a single
    effort. This partnership supports the missions of several federal
    agencies: USGS and the U.S. Forest Service for mapping and
    analysis projects, the Environmental Protection Agency and the
    Department of Homeland Security for analysis projects, and the
    Census Bureau for mapping. Numerous state agencies also


Page 30                                        GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
      participate in order to meet reporting requirements of the Federal
      Water Pollution Control Act. This partnership also has data
      stewardship agreements in place between USGS and 35 states. This
      data stewardship activity is based on the input of local organizations
      knowledgeable about hydrography in their immediate area.

While agencies have taken actions to coordinate geospatial data
investments, recent reports, as well as officials from state and local
associations and the FGDC Advisory Committee have all stated that
duplicative geospatial data investments continue across all levels of
government. For example, according to Transportation’s Transportation
for the Nation Strategic Plan, dated May 2011, duplication exists in the
acquisition of nationwide road centerline data across federal agencies
and other levels of government, resulting in millions of wasted taxpayer
dollars. 56 The report identified several initiatives that are currently
independently acquiring road centerline data:

•     Census Bureau’s Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and
      Referencing (TIGER) system, which uses data procured from local
      sources for census enumeration and demographic applications.
      These data were built and are maintained by the Census Bureau.

•     USGS’s National Map website, which uses licensed data from a
      commercial provider to create viewable maps on the National Map.
      These data are managed by USGS. 57

•     The Department of Defense’s Homeland Security Infrastructure
      Program, which uses licensed commercial data procured by the
      National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency for emergency management.

In addition, a subcommittee of the National Geospatial Advisory
Committee has, at the request of the FGDC, been evaluating the need for
a national address database, assessing potential concerns with such a
database, and identifying possible approaches for its development.
According to a National Geospatial Advisory Committee official, several
federal agencies collect, purchase, or lease address information in a


56
    Department of Transportation, Transportation for the Nation Strategic Plan, May 2011.
57
  According to Interior officials, the Census Bureau and USGS have formed a working
group to determine if the accuracy of the TIGER data can be improved sufficiently to allow
them to be used on the National Map website, as opposed to the licensed data.




Page 31                                                   GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
noncoordinated fashion. This subcommittee is in the process of finalizing
a report 58 for the full committee that would assess, among other things,
the benefits, potential savings, and efficiencies that could be realized from
the development of a national address database.

Further, in a report on land parcel data, the National Academy of
Sciences 59 stated that the lack of nationally integrated land parcel data
has led to duplication of effort among various levels of government and
between the public and private sector, such as the Department of
Housing and Urban Development, the U. S. Forest Service, insurance
companies, and private companies that list home values and sell parcel
maps. 60 In addition, a National Geospatial Advisory Committee
representative stated that a commercial provider leases the same
proprietary parcel data to six federal agencies: the Department of
Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Homeland Security,
the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Small Business Administration,
the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Federal Reserve. In
recent reports, the Congressional Research Service found that a
coordinated approach to federally managed parcel data still did not exist
and that the best method for obtaining an accurate tally of federal lands is
to contact each land management agency directly. 61

Representatives from the National States Geographic Information
Council 62 stated that federal agencies are investing in geospatial data that
exist at the state and local level, noting that duplicative data continue to


58
 The report is tentatively scheduled for approval by the National Geospatial Advisory
Committee by December 2012.
59
  Founded by congressional charter, the National Academy of the Sciences is a private,
nonprofit organization that serves as advisors to the nation on issues of science and
technology that frequently affect policy decisions.
60
  National Academy of Sciences, National Land Parcel Data: A Vision for the Future,
2007.
61
  Congressional Research Service, Issues and Challenges for Federal Geospatial
Information, Apr. 27, 2012; and Issues Regarding a National Land Parcel Database, May
13, 2011.
62
  The National States Geographic Information Council has two missions: (1) to promote
the coordination of statewide geospatial activities in all states and (2) to advocate for the
states in national geospatial policy initiatives to help enable the NSDI. Members of the
council include senior state GIS managers and coordinators as well as others from all
levels of government, academia, and the private sector. See http://www.nsgic.org/.




Page 32                                                     GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
              be procured in such areas as imagery, elevation, road centerlines, and
              address points.


              The long-standing problem of effectively coordinating federal geospatial
Conclusions   investments to reduce redundancies has yet to be resolved. In particular,
              the FGDC has not established a framework for governmentwide
              management of themes and datasets; provided geospatial information
              users with the means to identify planned data acquisitions; and developed
              and maintained a national strategy to guide the development of the NSDI,
              with associated metrics to measure progress and ensure accountability.
              Similarly, federal departments and agencies have not yet implemented
              long-standing OMB guidance intended to ensure the efficient use of
              limited federal resources and the effective stewardship of geospatial data
              themes, including developing and implementing a strategy for advancing
              geospatial activities related to their mission; and implementing policies,
              procedures, and plans for effectively coordinating and managing
              geospatial data, standards, and the clearinghouse. Moreover, OMB has
              not established an effective mechanism to identify the amount of the
              federal budget being spent on geospatial investments as well as
              potentially duplicative geospatial investments.

              The FGDC, federal agencies, and OMB have each indicated that the lack
              of progress in implementing these important coordination activities is
              because they have been focusing on other priorities. However, while the
              extent of duplication in geospatial investments is unknown, it is estimated
              that billions of dollars are being spent across the federal government on
              geospatial investments. Further, many mission-critical applications, such
              as those used to respond to natural disasters—floods, hurricanes, and
              fires—depend on geospatial information to protect lives and property.
              Thus, it is important that the data acquired to support these critical
              functions be done in a timely and coordinated manner, with minimal
              duplication.

              Until a comprehensive national strategy is in place, the FGDC develops
              and implements guidance and tools to effectively coordinate
              governmentwide geospatial activities, and federal agencies establish and
              implement the policies, procedures, and plans to coordinate their
              geospatial activities, the vision of the NSDI to improve the coordination
              and use of geospatial information will likely not be fully realized and
              duplicative investments will likely continue. Further, until OMB establishes
              a way to obtain reliable information about federal geospatial investments,
              OMB will not be able to identify potentially duplicative geospatial


              Page 33                                         GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                      investments. Unless the FGDC, federal departments and agencies, and
                      OMB decide that investments in geospatial information are a priority,
                      these investments will remain uncoordinated, and although the extent of
                      duplication is unknown, the federal government will continue to acquire
                      duplicative geospatial information and waste taxpayer dollars.


                      To better facilitate the coordination of—and accountability for—the
Recommendations for   estimated billions of dollars in federal geospatial investments, and to
Executive Action      reduce duplication, we recommend that the Secretary of the Interior, as
                      the FGDC Chair, direct the FGDC Steering Committee to take the
                      following three actions.

                      •   Establish a time frame for completing a plan to facilitate the
                          implementation of OMB’s portfolio management guidance, and
                          develop and implement the plan within the established time frame.
                          The plan, at a minimum, should include goals and performance
                          measures, and the FGDC should report annually to OMB on the
                          progress made on efforts to improve coordination and reduce
                          duplication among themes.

                      •   Develop and implement guidance for identifying planned geospatial
                          investments using the Geospatial Platform, and establish a time frame
                          for doing so.

                      •   Establish a time frame for creating and updating a strategic plan to
                          improve coordination and reduce duplication, and create and
                          implement the plan within the established time frame. The plan, at a
                          minimum, should include (1) a vision statement for the NSDI; (2)
                          outcome-oriented goals and objectives that address all aspects of the
                          NSDI; (3) a description of how the goals and objectives are to be
                          achieved, including a description of the resources needed to achieve
                          the goals and objectives and how the FGDC is to work with other
                          agencies to achieve them; (4) performance measures for achieving
                          the stated goals; and (5) external factors that could affect the
                          achievement of the goals and objectives.

                      To help ensure the success of department’s efforts to improve geospatial
                      coordination and reduce duplication, we recommend that the Secretary of
                      Commerce designate a senior agency official who has departmentwide
                      responsibility, accountability, and authority for geospatial information
                      issues. We further recommend that the Secretary of Commerce direct the




                      Page 34                                       GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
designated senior official for geospatial information to take the following
three actions.

•   Prepare, maintain, publish, and implement a strategy for advancing
    geographic information and related geospatial data activities
    appropriate to its mission.

•   Develop a policy that requires the department to make its geospatial
    metadata available on the clearinghouse.

•   Develop and implement internal procedures to ensure that it accesses
    the NSDI clearinghouse before it expends funds to collect or produce
    new geospatial data to determine (1) whether the information has
    already been collected by others and (2) whether cooperative efforts
    to obtain the data are possible.

Further, to improve the department’s management of its geodetic control
theme, we recommend that the Secretary of Commerce direct the
geodetic control theme point of contact to create and implement a plan to
develop and implement geodetic control theme standards.

We recommend that the Secretary of the Interior direct the designated
senior official for geospatial information to take the following three
actions.

•   Prepare, maintain, publish, and implement a strategy for advancing
    geographic information and related geospatial data activities
    appropriate to its mission.

•   Develop a policy that requires the department to make its geospatial
    metadata available on the clearinghouse.

•   Develop and implement internal procedures to ensure that it accesses
    the NSDI clearinghouse before it expends funds to collect or produce
    new geospatial data to determine (1) whether the information has
    already been collected by others and (2) whether cooperative efforts
    to obtain the data are possible.

We further recommend that the Secretary of the Interior direct the
hydrography theme point of contact to take the following three actions.




Page 35                                         GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
•   Prepare goals relating to all datasets within the hydrography theme
    that support the NSDI, and as needed, collect and analyze information
    from user needs and include those needs in the theme-related goals.

•   Develop and implement a plan for the nationwide population of the
    hydrography theme that addresses all datasets within the theme; and
    that includes (1) the development of partnership programs with states,
    tribes, academia, the private sector, other federal agencies, and
    localities that meet the needs of users; (2) human and financial
    resource needs; (3) standards, metadata, and the clearinghouse
    needs; and (4) a timetable for the development for the theme.

•   Create and implement a plan to develop and implement hydrography
    theme standards.

We recommend that the Secretary of Transportation designate a senior
agency official who has departmentwide responsibility, accountability, and
authority for geospatial information issues. We further recommend that
the Secretary of Transportation direct the designated senior official for
geospatial information to take the following three actions.

•   Prepare, maintain, publish, and implement a strategy for advancing
    geographic information and related geospatial data activities
    appropriate to its mission.

•   Develop a policy that requires the department to make its geospatial
    metadata available on the clearinghouse.

•   Develop and implement internal procedures to ensure that it accesses
    the NSDI clearinghouse before it expends funds to collect or produce
    new geospatial data to determine (1) whether the information has
    already been collected by others and (2) whether cooperative efforts
    to obtain the data are possible.

We further recommend that the Secretary of Transportation direct the
transportation theme point of contact to take the following three actions.

•   Prepare goals relating to all datasets within the transportation theme
    that support the NSDI, and as needed, collect and analyze information
    from user needs and include those needs in the theme-related goals.

•   Develop and implement a plan for the nationwide population of the
    transportation theme that addresses all datasets within the theme;
    and that includes (1) the development of partnership programs with


Page 36                                         GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                         states, tribes, academia, the private sector, other federal agencies,
                         and localities that meet the needs of users; (2) human and financial
                         resource needs; (3) standards, metadata, and the clearinghouse
                         needs; and (4) a timetable for the development for the theme.

                     •   Create and implement a plan to develop and implement transportation
                         theme standards.

                     Further, to improve OMB oversight of geospatial information and assets,
                     and minimize duplication of federal geospatial investments, we
                     recommend that the Director of OMB develop a mechanism, or modify
                     existing mechanisms, to identify and report annually on all geospatial-
                     related investments, including dollars invested and the nature of the
                     investment.


                     We received written, e-mail, or oral responses on a draft of this report
Agency Comments      from Interior, Commerce, Transportation, as well as OMB and the
and Our Evaluation   General Services Administration. These responses are summarized
                     below.

                     In written comments, signed by the Assistant Secretary for Policy,
                     Management and Budget, and reprinted in appendix III, Interior generally
                     agreed with our recommendations. The department stated that it
                     recognizes the need to more fully implement the portfolio management
                     requirements described in the OMB Circular A-16 supplemental guidance
                     and is already actively working to develop tools that will help agencies
                     identify planned geospatial investments in the Geospatial Platform. With
                     respect to our recommendations aimed at improving Interior’s
                     management of its geospatial investments, the department stated that it is
                     beginning to take actions to implement our recommendations, including
                     developing an Geospatial Advisory Committee for the department—which
                     is intended to provide leadership and direction for the development of a
                     comprehensive geospatial technical strategy for the department—as well
                     as developing procedures for making metadata available on the
                     clearinghouse. The department further stated that it is committed to
                     working with OMB and its partner agencies to address our
                     recommendations in a timely manner.

                     In addition, the department stated that its efforts to lead and coordinate
                     activities of the FGDC and the Geospatial Platform continue to accrue
                     great benefits to the federal community and U.S. citizens. In particular,
                     Interior stated that through these efforts, it will be able to implement the


                     Page 37                                          GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
supplemental guidance to OMB Circular A-16, and realize the
tremendous potential of the Geospatial Platform. We support the
department’s efforts as evidenced by our recommendations to the
department aimed at furthering agencies’ implementation of the
supplemental guidance and use of the Geospatial Platform to identify
planned geospatial investments. Interior also provided technical
comments, which we have incorporated in the report as appropriate.

In written comments, signed by the Acting Secretary of Commerce, and
reprinted in appendix IV, Commerce stated that the department and
NOAA agree with our recommendations, and described actions planned
to implement them. Commerce also stated that it appreciates the work
that we have done to improve coordination in managing geospatial
investments.

In oral comments, Transportation officials, including the department’s
Geospatial Information Officer/BTS Director of Geospatial Information
Systems, neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendations, and
provided two comments on our draft report. First, Transportation officials
stated that, as of October 2012, the department’s metadata files are
available on the geoplatform.gov and the geo.data.gov sites, and
provided supporting evidence. As a result, we revised our report to
acknowledge that the department has made its metadata associated with
geospatial data available on the clearinghouse, and removed the
recommendation that it does so. Second, Transportation officials stated
that they believed that the department should have received partial credit
for having prepared, maintained, published, and implemented a strategy
for advancing geographic information and related geospatial data
activities appropriate to the department’s mission, and in support of the
NSDI strategy. Specifically, Transportation officials stated that the
department’s Transportation for the Nation Strategic Plan partially
satisfies these criteria because it includes a strategy for collecting and
maintaining road centerline data, which represents the vast majority of
travel in terms of both passengers and freight. We agree that
transportation by road is a major component of the transportation data
theme. In fact, our assessment of this plan was the basis for the partial
rating for two of the criteria related to BTS’s (the theme-lead agency)
management of the transportation data theme: “prepared goals and
analyzed user needs,” and “developed a plan for theme population.”
However, the strategic plan does not include a strategy for advancing all
the department’s geographic information and related geospatial data
activities, nor does it describe how the department and its agencies are to
coordinate their geospatial efforts to support the department’s mission. In


Page 38                                        GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
particular, the plan does not address geospatial themes other than
transportation—including elevation and imagery—in which Federal
Aviation Administration officials stated that their agency also makes
investments. Therefore, we believe that the department’s Transportation
for the Nation Strategic Plan does not constitute a departmentwide
geospatial plan. In addition, Transportation officials provided a technical
comment, which we incorporated into the draft.

In comments provided via e-mail, a paralegal specialist in OMB’s Office of
General Counsel, on behalf of OMB, stated that OMB concurs with the
need for improved collection of geospatial-related investments, but
believes that it should only be achieved through improvements to broader
reporting mechanisms for IT investments and data assets, and not by
developing new and separate mechanisms specifically for geospatial-
related assets. OMB further noted that it would be helpful if we clarified
our recommendation to acknowledge that a new process is not required
or expected. The decision as to whether OMB should develop a new
mechanism, or improve an existing mechanism, should be made based
on whichever option will be most successful in collecting the necessary
information. We modified our recommendation to reflect this. OMB also
provided technical comments, which we incorporated as appropriate.

In e-mail comments provided by a Management and Program Analyst in
the GAO/IG (Inspector General) Response Audit Division, the General
Services Administration stated that it had no formal comments on the
draft report.


We are sending copies of this report to interested congressional
committees; the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Federal Geographic Data
Committee; the Director of the Office of Management and Budget; the
Secretaries of the Departments of Commerce, the Interior, and
Transportation; and the Administrator of the General Services
Administration. This report will also be available at no charge on our
website at http://www.gao.gov.




Page 39                                         GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
If you or your staffs have any questions on matters discussed in this
report, please contact me at (202) 512-9286 or pownerd@gao.gov.
Contact points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public
Affairs may be found on the last page of this report. GAO staff who made
major contributions to this report are listed in appendix V.




David A. Powner
Director
Information Technology Management Issues




Page 40                                       GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
              Appendix I: Objective, Scope, and

Appendix I: Objective, Scope, and
              Methodology



Methodology

              Our objective was to determine the extent to which the federal
              government has established and effectively implemented policies and
              procedures for coordinating its investments in geospatial data and
              avoiding duplication. To address this objective, we focused on
              governmentwide activities to implement the National Spatial Data
              Infrastructure (NSDI), including efforts of the Federal Geographic Data
              Committee (FGDC), as well as those within selected departments.

              To evaluate federal departments’ efforts to implement the NSDI, we first
              identified the nine framework themes, 1 as identified in Office of
              Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-16. These framework themes
              are cadastral, cadastral (offshore), digital orthoimagery, elevation
              bathymetric, elevation terrestrial, geodetic control, government units,
              hydrography, and transportation; and are described in appendix II. From
              those nine themes, we then randomly selected three themes and
              identified the federal departments and agencies responsible for managing
              the themes. The three departments, theme-lead agencies, and selected
              themes are:

              •   Department of Commerce (Commerce)—National Oceanic and
                  Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—Geodetic Control;

              •   Department of the Interior (Interior)—U. S. Geological Survey
                  (USGS)—Hydrography; and

              •   Department of Transportation (Transportation)—Bureau of
                  Transportation Statistics (BTS)—Transportation.

              We then reviewed FGDC and federal department documentation, such as
              policies, procedures, strategic plans, implementation plans, technical
              documentation of standards and metadata, committee charters and
              meeting minutes, and budget documentation. We assessed this
              information against responsibilities identified in Executive Order 12906, 2




              1
               The FGDC considers there to be seven framework themes, with two of the themes
              having two parts. Specifically, FGDC considers cadastral and cadastral (offshore) to be
              one theme and elevation bathymetric and elevation terrestrial to be one theme.
              2
               Executive Order No. 12906, Coordinating Geographic Data Acquisition and Access: The
              National Spatial Data Infrastructure, 59 Fed. Reg. 17,671 (Apr. 11, 1994).




              Page 41                                                  GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
Appendix I: Objective, Scope, and
Methodology




OMB Circular A-16, 3 OMB M-06-07, 4 and OMB M-11-03; 5 identified any
discrepancies, and discussed them with the relevant agency officials.

To determine the completeness of the federal agency metadata records
in the clearinghouse and to determine which agencies contributed records
to geo.data.gov, we obtained an extract of the contents of geo.data.gov
as of February 22, 2012. We then recreated a database of the metadata
records. We reviewed FGDC guidance 6 to identify what are considered to
be the mandatory data elements, which total 29. For each record in the
database, we determined if the metadata value for each of the 29
mandatory data fields had information or was blank. In addition, we used
the metadata records to determine what agencies contributed records by
examining the data fields that indicated the origin and publisher of the
data.

In order to assess the reliability of the clearinghouse data that we
analyzed, we reviewed FGDC documentation, the General Services
Administration’s written responses to questions, and interviewed officials
familiar with the clearinghouse data in order to gain an understanding of
the controls around the creation and maintenance of the clearinghouse
data. We determined that our recreation of the database had no material
effect on our analysis and that the database, as recreated, was
sufficiently reliable for our purposes.

To determine whether OMB had complete and reliable information to
identify duplicative geospatial investments, we reviewed OMB’s most
recent data calls for geospatial data from 2006 and 2007, OMB Circular
A-11, 7 and department budget submissions. We compared the list of key
datasets for the themes in our sample to budget documentation available


3
 OMB, Circular No. A-16, Coordination of Geographic Information and Related Spatial
Data Activities, Aug. 19, 2002.
4
 OMB, M-06-07, Designation of a Senior Agency Official for Geospatial Information, Mar.
3, 2006.
5
OMB, M-11-03, Issuance of OMB Circular A-16 Supplemental Guidance, Nov. 10, 2010.
6
 FGDC, FGDC-STD-001-1998: Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata, 1998;
and Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata Workbook, May 1, 2000.
7
 OMB, Circular No. A-11, Preparation, Submission, and Execution of the Budget, August
2011; and Circular No. A-11, Preparation, Submission, and Execution of the Budget,
August 2012.




Page 42                                                GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
Appendix I: Objective, Scope, and
Methodology




in OMB’s fiscal year 2013 exhibit 53 to determine the extent to which the
agencies identified these datasets as investments in information
technology (IT) and geospatial services. To determine the reliability of the
data on the IT Dashboard, we reviewed recent GAO reports that identified
issues with the accuracy and reliability of agency data on the IT
Dashboard. We determined that the data were sufficiently reliable for the
purpose of this report, which is to determine the extent to which
departments’ key datasets were included as IT investments and coded as
geospatial services in the departments’ respective exhibit 53s for fiscal
year 2013.

To identify potential duplicative geospatial investments, we reviewed
recent reports 8 from the FGDC, Transportation, the Congressional
Research Service, the National Geospatial Advisory Committee, 9 and the
National Academy of Sciences, 10 and spoke with FGDC and the National
States Geographic Information Council officials. 11

We also interviewed FGDC officials, including the Chair and Vice-Chair of
the FGDC; the Executive Director of the FGDC Office of the Secretariat;
the representative for the Managing Partner of the Geospatial Platform;
OMB Office of E-Government staff members; department and agency
officials responsible for coordinating geospatial investments within their
respective agencies as well as theme-lead points of contact within those
agencies; General Services Administration officials responsible for
managing the geospatial clearinghouse; the Chair of the National


8
 See, for example: Department of Transportation, Transportation for the Nation Strategic
Plan, May 2011; National Geospatial Advisory Committee, National Addresses Databases
Background Paper - DRAFT, prepared by Gene Trobia, Apr. 3, 2012; National Academy
of Sciences, National Land Parcel Data: A Vision for the Future, 2007; Congressional
Research Service, Issues and Challenges for Federal Geospatial Information, Apr. 27,
2012; and Congressional Research Service, Issues Regarding a National Land Parcel
Database, May 13, 2011.
9
 The committee is a federal advisory committee sponsored by Interior under the Federal
Advisory Committee Act. It reports to the Chair of the FGDC.
10
  Established by congressional charter, the National Academy of Sciences is a private,
nonprofit organization that serves as advisors to the nation on issues of science and
technology that frequently affect policy decisions.
11
  The National States Geographic Information Council is made up of senior state
geographic information system managers and coordinators. Other members include
representatives from federal agencies, local government, the private sector, academia,
and other professional organizations.




Page 43                                                 GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
Appendix I: Objective, Scope, and
Methodology




Geospatial Advisory Committee; and the President and Washington
Liaison of the National States Geographic Information Council.

We conducted this performance audit from November 2011 to November
2012 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to
obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
our findings and conclusions based on our audit objective. We believe
that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
and conclusions based on our audit objective.




Page 44                                       GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                                               Appendix II: Comparison between Proposed

Appendix II: Comparison between Proposed       Themes and Existing Themes



Themes and Existing Themes


FGDC proposed theme and description                   Corresponding A-16 existing theme and description
Biota—Biota pertain to, or describe the dynamic       Biological Resources—This dataset includes data pertaining to or descriptive of
processes, interactions, distributions, and           (nonhuman) biological resources and their distributions and habitats, including data
relationships between and among organisms and         at the suborganismal (genetics, physiology, anatomy, etc.), organismal
their environments.                                   (subspecies, species, systematics), and ecological (populations, communities,
                                                      ecosystems, biomes, etc.) levels.
                                                      Vegetation—Vegetation data describe a collection of plants or plant communities
                                                      with distinguishable characteristics that occupy an area of interest.
                                                                a
Cadastre—This theme describes past, current,          Cadastral —Cadastral data describe the geographic extent of past, current, and
and future rights and interests in real property,     future rights, title, and interests in real property, and the framework to support the
including the spatial information necessary to        description of that geographic extent. The geographic extent includes survey and
describe geographic extents. Rights and               description frameworks, such as the Public Land Survey System, as well as parcel-
interests are benefits or enjoyment in real           by-parcel surveys and descriptions.
property that can be conveyed, transferred, or                                 a
                                                      Cadastral (Offshore) —Offshore cadastre is the land management system used
otherwise allocated to another for economic           on the Outer Continental Shelf. It extends from the baseline to the extent of U.S.
remuneration. Rights and interests are recorded       jurisdiction. Existing coverage is currently limited to the conterminous United States
in land record documents.                             and portions of Alaska.
The spatial information necessary to describe         Public Land Conveyance (patent) Records—Public land conveyance data are
geographic extents includes surveys and legal         the records that describe all past, current, and future rights, title, and interests in
description frameworks, such as the Public Land       real property. This is a system of storage, retrieval, and dissemination of
Survey System, as well as parcel-by-parcel            documents describing the rights, title, and interests of parcels.
surveys and descriptions. This theme does not
include federal government or military facilities.    Federal Land Ownership Status—Federal land ownership status includes the
                                                      establishment and maintenance of a system for the storage and dissemination of
                                                      information describing all title, estates, or interests of the federal government
                                                      parcels of real and mineral property. The ownership status system is the portrayal
                                                      of title for all such federal estates or interests in land.
Climate and Weather—Climate and weather               Climate—Climate data describe the spatial and temporal characteristics of the
describes meteorological conditions, including        Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, and land surface system. These data represent
temperature, precipitation, and wind, that            both model-generated and observed environmental information, which can be
characteristically prevail in a particular region     summarized to describe surface, near surface, and atmospheric conditions over a
over a long period of time. Weather is the state of   range of scales.
the atmosphere at a given time and place, with
respect to variables, such as temperature,
moisture, wind velocity, and barometric pressure.
Cultural Resources—This theme describes               Cultural Resources—The cultural resources theme includes historic places, such
features and characteristics of a collection of       as districts, sites, buildings, and structures of significance in history, architecture,
places of significance in history, architecture,      engineering, or culture. Cultural resources also encompass prehistoric features as
engineering, or society. It includes national         well as historic landscapes.
monuments and icons.                                  Geographic Names—This dataset contains data or information on geographic
                                                      place names deemed official for federal use by the U.S. Board on Geographic
                                                      Names as pursuant to 80 Cong. Ch. 330. Geographic Names information includes
                                                      both the official place name (current, historical, and aliases) and direct (i.e.,
                                                      geographic coordinates) and indirect (i.e., state and county where place is located)
                                                      geospatial identifiers. This information is categorized as populated places, schools,
                                                      reservoirs, parks, streams, valleys, and ridges.




                                               Page 45                                                     GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                                              Appendix II: Comparison between Proposed
                                              Themes and Existing Themes




FGDC proposed theme and description                    Corresponding A-16 existing theme and description
                                                                                  a
Elevation—Elevation is the measured vertical           Elevation Bathymetric —The bathymetric data for Inland and Intercoastal
position of the Earth surface and other landscape      waterways is highly accurate bathymetric (i.e., the measurement of water depths)
or bathymetric features relative to a reference        sounding information collected to ensure that federal navigation channels are
datum typically related to sea level. These points     maintained to their authorized depths. Bathymetric survey activities support the
normally describe bare Earth positions but may         nation’s critical nautical charting program. These data are also used to create
also describe the top surface of buildings and         Electronic Navigational Charts.
other objects, vegetation structure, or submerged                              a
                                                       Elevation Terrestrial —These data contain georeferenced digital representations
objects.                                               of terrestrial surfaces, natural or manmade, that describe vertical position above or
Elevation data can be stored as a three-               below a datum surface.
dimensional array or as a continuous surface,
such as a raster, triangulated irregular network,
or contours. Elevation data may also be
represented in other derivative forms, such as
slope, aspect, ridge and drainage lines, and
shaded relief.
                                                                          a
Geodetic Control—This theme includes a                 Geodetic Control —Geodetic control provides a common reference system for
collection of control points that provide a            establishing coordinates for all geographic data. All NSDI framework data and
common reference system for establishing               users’ applications data require geodetic control to accurately register spatial data.
coordinates for geographic data.                       The National Spatial Reference System is the fundamental geodetic control for the
                                                       United States.
Geology—Geology is geographically-referenced           Geologic—The geologic spatial data theme includes all geologic mapping
data pertaining to the origin, history, composition,   information and related geoscience spatial data (including associated geophysical,
structure, features, and processes of the solid        geochemical, geochronologic, and paleontologic data) that can contribute to the
Earth, both onshore and offshore.                      National Geologic Map Database as pursuant to Public Law 106-148.
It includes geologic, geophysical, and                 Offshore Minerals—Offshore minerals include minerals occurring in submerged
geochemical maps, stratigraphy, paleontology,          lands. Examples of marine minerals include oil, gas, sulfur, gold, sand and gravel,
geochronology, mineral and energy resources,           and manganese.
and natural hazards, such as earthquakes,
volcanic eruptions, coastal erosion, and
landslides. The theme does not include soils.
                                                                              a
Governmental Units—This theme includes data            Governmental Units —These data describe, by a consistent set of rules and
that describe political, governmental, and             semantic definitions, the official boundaries of federal, state, local, and tribal
administrative (management) type boundaries            governments as reported/certified to the U.S. Census Bureau by responsible
that are used to manage people and resources. It       officials of each government for purposes of reporting the nation’s official statistics.
includes geopolitical boundaries (county, parish,      International Boundaries—International boundary data include both textual
state, city, etc.), tribal boundaries, federal land    information to describe, and geographic information system (GIS) digital
boundaries, federal regions, international             cartographic data to depict, both land and maritime international boundaries, other
boundaries, and governmental administrative            lines of separation, limits, zones, enclaves, exclaves, and special areas between
units, such as congressional districts,                states and dependencies.
international lines of separation, limits, zones,
enclaves, exclaves, special areas between states       Marine Boundaries—Marine boundaries depict offshore waters and seabeds over
and dependencies, and all jurisdictional offshore      which the United States has sovereignty and jurisdiction.
limits within U.S. sovereignty. Boundaries
associated with natural resources, demography,
and cultural entities are excluded and can be
found in the appropriate subject themes.




                                              Page 46                                                       GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                                              Appendix II: Comparison between Proposed
                                              Themes and Existing Themes




FGDC proposed theme and description                    Corresponding A-16 existing theme and description
                                                                              a
Imagery—The imagery theme includes                     Digital Ortho Imagery —This dataset contains georeferenced images of the
georeferenced images of the Earth’s surface that       Earth’s surface where object displacement has been removed for sensor
have been collected using aerial photography or        distortions and orientation, and terrain relief. Digital orthoimages have the
satellite data. Orthoimagery is prepared through       geometric characteristics of a map and image qualities of a photograph.
a geometric correction process known as
orthorectification to remove image displacements
due to relief and sensor characteristics. This
process allows for their use as base maps for
digital mapping and analyses in a GIS. Specific
imagery data sets created through image
interpretation and classification, such as a land
cover image, can be found under themes specific
to the subject matter. This theme includes
imagery, such as Landsat, National Agriculture
Imagery Program, and Digital Orthophoto
Quarter Quadrangle.
Land Use/Land Cover—This theme refers                  Earth Cover—The Earth cover theme uses a hierarchical classification system
collectively to natural and man-made surface           based on observable form and structure, as opposed to function or use. This
features that cover the land (Land Cover) and to       system transitions from generalized to more specific and detailed class divisions,
the primary ways in which land cover is used by        and provides a framework within which multiple land cover and land use
humans (Land Use). Examples of Land Cover              classification systems can be cross-referenced. This system is applicable
may be grass, asphalt, trees, bare ground, and         everywhere on the surface of the Earth. This theme differs from the Vegetation and
water. Examples of Land Use may be urban,              Wetlands themes, which provide additional detail.
agricultural, ranges, and forest areas.
Real Property—The real property theme                  Buildings and Facilities—The facility theme includes federal sites or entities with
includes data that describes the spatial               a geospatial location deliberately established for designated activities; a facility
representation (location) of real property entities,   database might describe a factory, military base, college, hospital, power plant,
typically consisting of one or more of the             fishery, national park, office building, space command center, or prison.
following: unimproved land, a building, a              Housing—This theme includes geographic data on homeownership rates,
structure, site improvements, and the underlying       including many attributes such as the Department of Housing and Urban
land. Complex real property entities (i.e.,            Development’s revitalization zones, location of various forms of housing
facilities) are used for a broad spectrum of           assistance, first-time homebuyers, underserved areas, and race.
functions or missions. This theme focuses on
spatial representation of real property assets only
and does not seek to describe special purpose
functions of real property, such as those found in
the Cultural Resources, Transportation, or
Utilities themes.
Soils—This theme includes data that depict the         Soils—Soil data consist of georeferenced digital map data describing the spatial
geography and attributes of the many kinds of          distribution of the various soils that cover the Earth’s surface, and attribute data
soils found in the landscape at both large and         describing the proportionate extent of the various soils as well as the physical and
small map scales. A living dynamic resource            chemical characteristics of those soils. The physical and chemical properties are
providing a natural medium for plant growth and        based on observed and measured values, as well as model-generated values. This
habitat for living organisms, soil recycles            theme also includes model-generated assessments of the suitability or limitations
nutrients and wastes, stores carbon, and purifies      of the soils to various land uses.
water supplies. Soil has distinct layers (called
“horizons”) that, in contrast to underlying
geologic material, are altered by the interactions
of climate, landscape features, and living
organisms over time.




                                              Page 47                                                     GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                                             Appendix II: Comparison between Proposed
                                             Themes and Existing Themes




FGDC proposed theme and description                   Corresponding A-16 existing theme and description
                                                                        a
Transportation—Transportation data describe           Transportation —Transportation data are used to model the geographic locations,
means and aids for conveying persons and              interconnectedness, and characteristics of the transportation system within the
goods. The transportation system includes both        United States. The transportation system includes both physical and nonphysical
physical and nonphysical components related to        components representing all modes of travel that allow the movement of goods and
all modes of travel that allow the movement of        people between locations.
goods and people between locations.                   Transportation (Marine)—The Navigation Channel Framework consists of highly
                                                      accurate dimensions (geographic coordinates for channel sides, centerlines,
                                                      wideners, turning basins, and river mile markers) for every federal navigation
                                                      channel maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The navigation
                                                      framework will provide the basis for the marine transportation theme of the
                                                      geospatial data framework.
Utilities—This theme includes the means, aids, There are not any corresponding existing themes.
and usage of facilities for producing, conveying,
distributing, processing, and disposing of public
and private commodities, including power,
energy, communications, natural gas, and water.
It includes subthemes for Energy and
Communications.
                                                                    a
Water—Inland—The Water—Inland theme                   Hydrography —This data theme includes surface water features, such as lakes,
describes interior hydrologic features and            ponds, streams and rivers, canals, oceans, and coastlines.
characteristics, including classification,            Watershed Boundaries—This data theme encodes hydrologic, watershed
measurements, location, and extent. It includes       boundaries into topographically defined sets of drainage areas that are organized
aquifers, watersheds, wetlands, navigation, water     in a nested hierarchy by size, and based on a standard hydrologic unit coding
quality, water quantity, and groundwater              system.
information.
                                                      Flood Hazards/Flood Plain—This theme includes documentation of the
                                                      boundaries and elevations of the 1 percent annual chance (100-year) flood for
                                                      communities across the country. The National Flood Insurance Program has
                                                      prepared flood hazard data for approximately 18,000 communities. The primary
                                                      information prepared for these communities is for the 1 percent annual chance
                                                      (100-year) flood, and includes documentation of the boundaries and elevations of
                                                      that flood.
                                                      Wetlands—The wetlands data layer provides the classification, location, and
                                                      extent of wetlands and deepwater habitats.
Water—Oceans and Coasts—This theme                    Baseline/Maritime Zones—Baseline represents the line from which maritime
includes datasets that describe features and          zones and limits are measured. Examples of these limits include the territorial sea,
characteristics of salt water bodies (tides, tidal    contiguous zone, and exclusive economic zone.
waves, coastal information, reefs) and features       Outer Continental Shelf Submerged Lands—These data include lands covered
and characteristics that represent the intersection   by water at any stage of the tide, as distinguished from tidelands, which are
of the land with the water surface (shorelines),      attached to the mainland or an island and cover and uncover with the tide.
the lines from which the territorial sea and other    Tidelands presuppose a high-water line as the upper boundary, whereas
maritime zones are measured (baseline                 submerged lands do not.
maritime), and lands covered by water at any
stage of the tide (outer continental shelf), as       Shoreline—Shorelines represent the intersection of the land with the water
distinguished from tidelands, which are attached      surface. The shoreline shown on NOAA’s charts represents the line of contact
to the mainland or an island and cover and            between the land and a selected water elevation.
uncover with the tide.




                                             Page 48                                                     GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
                                        Appendix II: Comparison between Proposed
                                        Themes and Existing Themes




FGDC proposed theme and description             Corresponding A-16 existing theme and description
These existing themes are proposed to be        Cultural and Demographic Statistics—These geospatially referenced data describe
removed because, according to the FGDC, the     the characteristics of people, the nature of the structures in which they live and work;
data associated with them are primarily         the economic and other activities they pursue; the facilities they use to support their
statistical.                                    health, recreational, and other needs; the environmental consequences of their
                                                presence; and the boundaries, names, and numeric codes of geographic entities used
                                                to report the information collected.
                                                Law Enforcement Statistics—Law enforcement statistics describe the occurrence of
                                                events (including incidences, offenses, and arrests) geospatially located, related to
                                                ordinance and statutory violations and the individuals involved in those occurrences.
                                                This theme also includes data related to deployment of law enforcement resources
                                                and performance measures.
                                                Public Health—Public health themes relate to the protection, improvement, and
                                                promotion of the health and safety of all people. For example, public health databases
                                                include spatial data on mortality and natality events, infectious and notifiable diseases,
                                                incident cancer cases, behavioral risk factor and tuberculosis surveillance, hazardous
                                                substance releases and health effects, hospital statistics, and other similar data.
                                        Source: OMB and FGDC documentation.

                                        a
                                         Designates a framework theme identified in OMB Circular No. A-16 as critical for many geospatial
                                        applications.




                                        Page 49                                                        GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
             Appendix III: Comments from the Department

Appendix III: Comments from the
             of the Interior



Department of the Interior




             Page 50                                      GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
Appendix III: Comments from the Department
of the Interior




Page 51                                      GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
Appendix IV: Comments from the
             Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
             of Commerce



Department of Commerce




             Page 52                                     GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
of Commerce




Page 53                                     GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
of Commerce




Page 54                                     GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
Appendix V: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Appendix V: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  David A. Powner, (202) 512-9286 or pownerd@gao.gov
GAO Contact
                  In addition to the contact name above, individuals making contributions to
Staff             this report included Deborah A. Davis (Assistant Director), Shaun T.
Acknowledgments   Byrnes, Eric Costello, Rebecca Eyler, Kaelin P. Kuhn, John Mingus,
                  Jamelyn Payan, Scott Pettis, and Andrew Stavisky.




(311267)
                  Page 55                                        GAO-13-94 Geospatial Information
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